Inherit the Wind takes place in the sleepy little town of Hillsboro. There is no summetime bliss in the air, however, for behind bars sits Bertram Cates, a school teacher who has been prosecuted for teaching evolution to his students. His case is being taken to court, where he will fight against the highly extolled Matthew Harrison Brady, who the town prepares a grand welcoming party for, including a fair-like setting, singing, a lunch buffet, and more. Brady is the hero of the town; the sole person who can eradicate the evil and sinful ways of evolution and its followers. The high spirits of Brady and the citizens are dampened, though, when they find out that Cates will be defended in court by the infamous Henry Drummond, a masterful attorney who is hated by all of Hillsboro. In the midst of this all is Cates' lover, Rachel Brown, who is torn between her love for Cates and her loyalty to her father, the Reverend Jeremiah Brown. Also on looking the events is E. K. Hornbeck, the cynical and sacrcastic journalist who's come to report on the highly anticipated results of the trial. The trial lasts a few days, with a prayer meeting held by Reverend brown on the first night. As the trial progresses, it seems that the odds are in Brady's favor- that is until Drummond calls Brady to the stand. As Drummond ruthlessly batters Brady with questions about the bible, Drummond finds a flaw in one of Brady's answers. Seizing his chance, Drummond starts to win over the audience and crush Brady under his heel. In the end though, Cates is still found guilty, but he only has to pay a small fine because the judge doesn't want to look bad for the upcoming elections. Brady, however, is a total mess, even though he won the case. He has lost the support of the people and he has been made to look like a fool. Eventually, the humiliation and pressure get to be too much for him, and he dies of a "busted belly" in the middle of trying to make a speech that no one was listening to anyway. Everything works out though, for Rachel decides to leave her father and run away with Cates. By tolerating Cates' beliefs but not necessarily accepting them as her own, she teaches everyone that is possible to handle individual differences and live a happy life.

Description of Major Characters

Matthew Harrison Brady- The prosecuting attorney for the trial. Brady is famous for preaching the gospel at Chatauqua meetings in Chatttanooga. He also ran for president on three separate occasions, but he never won.

Henry Drummond- The defense attorney. Drummond is infamous for defending criminals in court and proving them to be innocent, even when he and everyone else knows that they are actually guilty.

Bertram Cates- The school teacher on trial for teaching evolution to his students; in love with Rachel Brown.

Rachel Brown- Daughter of the Reverend Jeremiah Brown; in love with Bertram Cates.

E. K. Hornbeck- Main journalist from the Baltimore Herald reporting on the happenings of the trial.

Reverend Jeremiah Brown- The reverend of the town; father of Rachel Brown


I like how this book teaches the reader the importance of tolerance and how everyone has the right to think. You can't ever let anyone tell you that your opinion is wrong because opinions can't be wrong. Your opinion is your point of view, and no one else has to agree with it if they don't want to . However, I didn't really like how the book was written in the form of a play. I don't like having to read stage cues to try and understand the thoughts of the characters, the scene, etc. I like to read books that are written like a novel, so that you can really get inside the characters heads and better understand the thoughts and opinions of everyone in the story.

What can we learn from reading this book?

Inherit the Wind teaches us many important lessons, such as tolerance. When Drummond slaps the evolution book and the Bible together at the end of the story, he shows that the two beliefs can coexist together in harmony, and that we can be tolerant of them. Also, the play teaches us the importance of standing up for what you believe in. Even with the entire town against him, Cates didn't back down in his fight to be able to think whatever he wants to. The lesson that knowledge is power can be learned from Inherit the Wind, too. Drummond demonstrated this by having a good understanding of the Bible. He may not have believed in the Bible, but he was still knowledgeable of it, and that helped him to almost win the trial. All of these important lessons can be learned just by reading Inherit the Wind, a little play full of a lot of big concepts.

Essential Questions

1.) How do we handle individual differences?

We can handle individual differences by learning tolerance. Just because someone believes in something doesn't mean that you're obligated to believe in it too. Everyone has the right to their own opinions and they can think whatever they want to think, and if we learn to tolerate these beliefs, opinions, and ideas, we can learn to handle individual differences.

2.) Does tolerance equal acceptance?

No, tolerance absolutely does not equal acceptance. Acceptance is the act of taking something and making it your own, while tolerance is having a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward things. Just because you tolerate something does not necessarily mean that you accept it.

3.) Can we tolerate someone/something without agreeing with them/it?

Yes, we can. Everyone is inclined to their own opinions, which we can tolerate by recognizing each and every thought and idea from someone in a fair and just manner. However, you don't have to agree with everything someone else says/does. You're allowed to have your own thoughts and opinions, too.

Reflections on Essay

What did I learn from this writing assignment?

I actually learned quite a lot from this writing assignment. I learned just how long it takes (hours!) to write a well developed essay and just how difficult it really can be. I never thought I'd spend so much time working on one assignment and making so many revisions to it.
I also learned a lot about characterization and how authors use it in their books. I never realized that characterization can reveal a theme. At first, I didn't even know what that meant, and I was worried that I wouldn't know what to write about because I didn't understand the topic. However, I gradually managed to grasp the concept of revealing the theme of Inherit the Wind through characterization, and I eventually had a full blown essay on my hands.

What did I do well on?

I think that I made pretty good use of transitions. After much thought and planning, I worked out which transitions sounded best where and how I could spread them out so that I wasn't using the same one over and over again and making myself sound redundant.
I also think that my paragraph hooks (transitions between paragraphs) were developed fairly well, too. I thought long and hard about how to word my paragraph hooks, and I think they turned out pretty nicely. I wanted to make sure that my essay flowed, and that the paragraphs and sentences weren't choppy or out of place.

What areas could I improve on?

Well for one, I could definitely improve on my attitude towards writing assignments. I really can't stand them at all because I want to do good on them, and therefore I spend hours and hours of my time (and I mean that literally) writing them and working on them in order to try and achieve a good grade. Then I get upset because I spent so much time writing about something that I find boring, and I less time to spend on other things that I both need and want to do.
In addition, I can improve on writing skills such as trying not to use passive voice. Frankly, I don't really understand why passive voice is such a bad thing; most authors and other writers that I know of use it quite a lot actually. I find it difficult not to use it sometimes because if I don't, my sentence sounds stupid and out of place.
I could also probably improve on not using "there are" in my writing. I understand that "there are" makes for a boring sentence, but I don't think it makes an unclear sentence. Most readers don't even notice if you use something like "there are". In fact, I find it to be very useful at times.
Figuring out when to start a new paragraph is something I could get better at, too. I'm so accustomed to writing strictly five-paragraph essays that I find it hard to figure out when I can switch to another paragraph or not. I want to keep certain things together because of the specific organization styles I'm required to use (like block and point-by-point) but the paragraphs get so large that it seems like they almost need to be broken up. But if I do that, I won't be following the organization styles and so on and so forth...
All in all, there's always something that I can improve on in order to become a better listener, writer, and speaker- and I'm willing to work on those things in order to do just that.